Guided Backpacking in Big Basin

Naturalist-led hiking and backpacking through Big Basin State Park, shown here along one of the ridgelines of upper Big Basin Park.

The following information is from the California State Parks website, —and the Parks page is updated regularly, so check there for current listings and more information on signing up for these guided hiking and camping trips.

Who better to lead you through our parks than California State Park professionals? Travel from spectacular ridgelines, through old growth redwood forests, to sandy shores with our knowledgeable team of naturalists. Imagine if the Santa Cruz Mountains could speak, and the stories they could tell. We will share the secrets of this precious wilderness and give you a window into the lives of the people who lived here for thousands of years.

Skyline to the Sea

castle rock overlook

Castle Rock State Park to Waddell State Beach
Thursday to Sunday, July 20–23, 2017
4 Days, 3 Nights

This 3 night, 4 day outing from Castle Rock to Waddell State Beach takes you on the legendary journey that has been a favorite of backpackers for 40 years. This trek spans 30+ miles of stunning ridgeline panoramas, mixed oak, madrone and redwood forests, riparian habitats, grassy meadows, spring-fed waterfalls, ending on the soft sandy beach. Adventurers will hike up to 10 miles a day, up steep hills and over sunny ridges on this challenging trip. This is the quintessential Santa Cruz Mountains backpacking experience.

2016 Guided Hikes

A Night Among the Ancients

redwoodsPortola Redwoods State Park to Slate Creek
Saturday to Sunday, July 9–10, 2016
2 Days, 1 Night

Explore Portola Redwoods State Park and beautiful Slate Creek, one of the secret jewels of the Santa Cruz Mountains trail camp system. Just a few miles hike from the main parking lot, quiet Slate Creek campground will serve as a base of operations. From there adventurers will explore remote Peters Creek Redwood Grove, discovering spectacular 1000-year-old giants towering over them.

Waddell to Waterfalls

berry creek fallsWaddell State Beach to Berry Creek Falls loop
Saturday to Sunday, July 23–24, 2016
2 Days, 1 Night

This 1 night, 2 day trip takes a different, more challenging angle on the classic Berry Creek Falls experience. Starting near Waddell Beach at Big Basin’s Rancho Del Oso Visitor Center, this adventure follows the Skyline to the Sea trail up to Berry Creek Falls and continues up to beautiful Sunset Trail Camp. The next day visitors will climb up to Mt. McAbee Overlook, one of the best panoramic views in the Santa Cruz Mountains, before plunging back down to the ocean.

One Night, Three Waterfalls

silver creek falls

Big Basin Redwoods State Park to Waddell State Beach
Saturday to Sunday, August 13–14, 2016
2 Days, 1 Night

This 1 night, 2 day trip is the classic backpacking tour of Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Adventurers will discover burnt-out redwood ‘caves’, magnificent spring-fed waterfalls, and rugged chaparral ridgelines on the way to the beach. Plan on hiking up to 8 miles a day while experiencing the flora, fauna, and history of this wild and incredible park.

Butano to Waddell- The Trail Less Traveled

redwood forest

Butano State Park to Waddell State Beach
Friday to Sunday, September 16–18, 2016
3 Days, 2 Nights

Starting in Butano State Park, this 2 night, 3 day trip explores relatively unknown portions of backcountry in the Santa Cruz Mountains before touring the iconic, must see spots of Big Basin. Adventurers will travel through chaparral ridges, moss-lined waterfalls and lush old-growth redwood groves. Fewer people trek this route on their journey to the Pacific through the Santa Cruz Mountain to Waddell State Beach.



Again, the information above is from the California State Parks website, , and is updated regularly, so —while we will try to keep this page updated— check the Parks page for current listings.